Scott Lemieux

Scott Lemieux is an assistant professor of political science at the College of Saint Rose. He contributes to the blogs Lawyers, Guns, and Money and Vox Pop.

Recent Articles

Judged Dred

Dred Scott v. Sandford is the ultimate trump card in constitutional arguments. This infamous case -- in which the Supreme Court held that Congress could not regulate slavery in the territories and that African Americans had “no rights the white man is bound to respect” -- provides such rhetorically compelling ammunition because everyone today considers the outcome to have been grossly immoral. (And make no mistake, the legitimacy of Supreme Court decisions over time rests on their substantive outcomes.) Dred Scott has served an all-purpose function in political and legal debates for years. In a typical case, George W. Bush -- demonstrating the forthright advocacy of conservative jurisprudence for which Republicans are famous -- went out of his way to assure the public during one of the 2004 presidential debates that he would not, in fact, appoint Supreme Court justices who would interfere with the ability of Congress to ban slavery in Puerto Rico. Bush's strange remarks were widely...

Courts Dismissed

Not long ago, the New York Court of Appeals intervened in a dispute over a hotly contested social issue: It struck down legislation that had been passed by the democratically accountable legislators of the New York State Assembly, legislation that was also a crucial part of the governor's first election campaign. Despite this, the court usurped the prerogatives of the more democratic branches and arrogantly ruled the legislation unconstitutional. I'm referring, of course, to the 2004 decision of the New York courts to rule New York's death penalty statute unconstitutional. The above characterization of the actions of the judiciary is not mine but rather reflects the way that many of the armchair legal scholars that grace the nation's op-ed pages tend to describe judicial decisions on contested social issues. These pundits routinely assure us that such judicial interventions -- ones that undermine policies favored by elected officials -- anger the public and create a backlash far...

Men Overboard

The confirmation of two conservative Supreme Court justices and the passage of a draconian abortion ban in South Dakota have again thrown the precarious state of reproductive rights in the United States into sharp relief. It's a serious moment -- which makes the continued preference for clever counter-intuition and abstract debates shared by many of the nation's prominent, avowedly pro-choice pundits all the more troubling. It is difficult to know when a

In Defense of Roe

From the archives: It is difficult to know when a contrarian idea has been repeated so much as to become the new conventional wisdom. However, it's not just "contrarian" for center-left pundits to claim Roe v. Wade doesn't matter. It's stupid.

This article originally appeared in our July 2006 issue. The confirmation of two conservative Supreme Court justices and the passage of a draconian abortion ban in South Dakota have again thrown the precarious state of reproductive rights in the United States into sharp relief. It's a serious moment -- which makes the continued preference for clever counter-intuition and abstract debates shared by many of the nation's prominent, avowedly pro-choice pundits all the more troubling. It is difficult to know when a contrarian idea has been repeated so much as to become the new conventional wisdom. At least in prominent liberal media outlets, however, the argument that pro-choicers would be better off abandoning Roe v. Wade has probably crossed the line. In The Atlantic Monthly , Bejamin Wittes' 2005 article asserting that Roe v. Wade has been deeply unhealthy for abortion rightswas followed up by a similar (although more detailed and nuanced) article in the June Atlantic by Jeffrey Rosen,...

It's Not That They're Lazy About Defending Fetal Life And Poor Women. It's Just That They Don't Care.

Scott here again... Well, how about that . It may seem counterintuitive to think that increased access to and education about contraception will prevent unwanted pregnancies and hence lead to fewer abortions--what a crazy idea, tried only by those crazy liberal democracies that don't see the American health care system as the world's best!--but apparently the GOP-led move to irrational sex ed and de-funding the provision of contraception to poor women has had this result: Poor women in America are increasingly likely to have unwanted pregnancies, whereas relatively affluent women are succeeding more and more in getting pregnant only when they want to, according to a study analyzing federal statistics. As a result of the growing disparity, women living in poverty are now almost four times more likely to become pregnant unintentionally than women of greater means, the study found. [..]. The abortion rate also rose among poor women while declining among the more affluent. What a surprise...

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